Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

MU­SIC is un­de­ni­ably im­por­tant to a large part of ev­ery so­ci­ety. The great mu­si­cian Ray Charles is quoted as hav­ing said: “I was born with mu­sic in­side me. Mu­sic was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kid­neys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force al­ready within me when I ar­rived on the scene. It was a ne­ces­sity for me - like food or wa­ter.”

There are many who would agree with Charles. Our days can­not start out with mu­sic. Whereas at the end of the last cen­tury we had to hope that our fa­vorite songs would come on the ra­dio or bother put­ting on a cas­sette or a record, now we have apps that ar­range songs we specif­i­cally choose, and we can just take our phone and start out our day with mu­sic that suits our mood.

But why is mu­sic so im­por­tant to us? Mu­sic af­fects us both phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally. It can even change our moods. By se­lect­ing up­beat mu­sic, we can shake off a bad day, and al­ter­na­tively, we can wal­low in mu­sic that matches our mis­ery.

Mu­sic is a means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Also, who or what we lis­ten to, in a way, iden­ti­fies who we are and what our out­look on life is.

And this is where the role of mu­sic in films and tele­vi­sion re­ally comes into its own. At the be­gin­ning, some pop­u­lar mu­sic em­anated from films. “Wizard of Oz” gave us “Some­where Over the Rain­bow,” and in Turkey, Yeşilçam films in­tro­duced a large num­ber of pop­u­lar songs. To­day one need only play the “Hababam Sınıfı” theme song to a room full of teach­ers and/or stu­dents to get an en­thu­si­as­tic re­ac­tion.

Ad­ver­tis­ers and film­mak­ers be­came aware of how mod­ern rock/pop mu­sic af­fects moods and en­cour­ages iden­tity. With ev­ery pass­ing day more and more fa­mil­iar songs are be­ing wo­ven into the films that we go to. There are many stud­ies that clearly demon­strate that the emo­tional theme of songs al­ready fa­mil­iar to us helps us to iden­tify with a char­ac­ter in a film, or a brand on tele­vi­sion.

How­ever, if there is no clear cor­re­la­tion be­tween the mes­sage or prod­uct and the sound­track then the im­pact of the mu­sic is di­min­ished. Too of­ten the mu­sic be­comes a clich&ea­cute; and loses its power to en­gage us.

When first sung by Judy Gar­land, “Some­where Over the Rain­bow” made the viewer feel wist­ful, sad and just a bit hope­ful. But used again and again in a num­ber of films, this song has be­come a clich&ea­cute;. When first used by Martin Scors­ese, the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shel­ter” had a clear im­pact, cre­at­ing a sin­is­ter sense of im­pend­ing dan­ger. But re­peated use has made it banal. The same is true for songs like “Sweet Home Alabama,” the clas­sic for ev­ery­thing de­pict­ing the Amer­i­can South, or Ge­orge Thor­ough­good’s “Bad to the Bone,” used time and time again for bad boys.

It has been clearly es­tab­lished that choos­ing the right mu­sic for an ad­ver­tise­ment at­tracts at­ten­tion, mak­ing it eas­ier to be un­der­stood, and cre­at­ing a feel-good mo­ment that cre­ates an emo­tional re­sponse that the viewer iden­ti­fies with the prod­uct. These pos­i­tive as­so­ci­a­tions can in­flu­ence the ten­dency of the con­sumer to con­sume. The re­verse is also true. The wrong song can switch the viewer off, caus­ing them to change chan­nels or go make a cup of tea.

The rea­son why mu­sic has this power is that mu­sic cre­ates emo­tions. Emo­tions make mem­o­ries more, for lack of a bet­ter word, mem­o­rable. The mu­sic trig­gers the emo­tion, and the emo­tion makes us re­mem­ber the film or the ad­ver­tise­ment. And then we spend, spend, spend.

Mu­sic was first used in ad­ver­tis­ing in the 1920s and 1930s. This is hardly sur­pris­ing. Films be­fore this time were silent. Tele­vi­sion had not yet made it into our liv­ing rooms. It was ac­tu­ally de­ter­gent pro­duc­ers who were pi­o­neers in us­ing mu­sic to make their brands mem­o­rable (and thus soap op­eras). When tele­vi­sion came into the home, ad­ver­tise­ments had jin­gles specif­i­cally com­posed songs.

Some clas­si­cal mu­sic found its way into the ad­ver­tise­ments, as these were copy­right-free, one of the most fa­mous be­ing Carl Orff ’s “O For­tuna,” used to ad­ver­tise men’s af- ter­shave.

In 1971, Coca Cola com­mis­sioned the New Seek­ers to per­form “I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing” to sell their prod­uct. The good-feel­ing na­ture of the song was ab­so­lutely iden­ti­fied with the soft-drink. Singing it for the school con­cert, ev­ery child had vi­sions of a cold drink wait­ing for them.

Af­ter the 1980s, li­cens­ing costs be­came more rea­son­able, and con­tem­po­rary mu­sic started to be used more of­ten. To­day roughly 90 per­cent of tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ments are ac­com­pa­nied by mu­sic. In fact, what hap­pens to­day is that Indy artists get boosted by the use of their songs in ad­ver­tise­ments; songs that were out of fash­ion be­come pop­u­lar once again. Films and ad­ver­tise­ments are a great way for even the most pop­u­lar bands to get ex­po­sure, or re-ex­po­sure.

But it wasn’t al­ways this way. When the Rolling Stones’ song “Start Me Up” was used to launch Win­dows 95, many thought this must be the end of pop­u­lar cul­ture. It hurt the Rolling Stones more than it hurt Mi­crosoft, dam­ag­ing their street cred. And to­day, it can still se­ri­ously hurt a band if their mu­sic ap­pears in a poor ad or film.

But more of­ten than not, bands are helped rather than hurt by ap­pear­ing in a video. The use of “Bo­hemian Like You” by the Dandy Warhols in a Voda­fone ad­ver­tise­ment pulled the band out of ob­scu­rity. One of the mem­bers told The In­de­pen­dent, “As far as I’m con­cerned, Voda­fone saved rock’n’roll.”

“Some­where Only We Know”, by Keane, was used in a Christ­mas ad­ver­tise­ment for a Bri­tish de­part­ment store in 2013. When it orig­i­nally ap­peared in 2004, the track did not do that much, but af­ter the ad­ver­tise­ment, this song went to num­ber one and stayed there for a long time.

Songs that ap­pear in film also help the artist, and in­crease sales. Mar­vel’s Avengers’ se­ries have done much to make the playlists of the younge r gen­er­a­tion re­sembl e those of their par­ents.

Some of the clas­sics that ap­pear over and over again in films have been men­tioned above.

Along­side “Gimme Shel­ter,” there are a num­ber of songs that are used re­peat­edly to in­di­cate a cer­tain at­mos­phere, era or sit­u­a­tion.

The Jimi Hen­drix Ex­pe­ri­ence’s per­for­mance of “All Along the Watch­tower” usu­ally in­di­cate that ei­ther some­one is about to hal­lu­ci­nate on drugs or that we are firmly en­trenched in the 1960s.

“For what is Worth,” by Buf­falo Spring­field and “Bad Moon Ris­ing” by Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival are over-used to in­di­cate that things are not go­ing well and are about to go re­ally wrong. Hear­ing the in­tro riffs to these num­bers, the viewer knows ex­actly what is go­ing to hap­pen.

“Walk­ing on Sun­shine” by Ka­t­rina and the Waves usu­ally means ev­ery­thing is go­ing su­per and the char­ac­ters could not be hap­pier. The odd­est use of this song was in “Amer­i­can Psy­cho,” play­ing in the ears of the lead char­ac­ter the morn­ing af­ter he had gone on a killing spree.

And then of course, the orig­i­nal pop­u­lar cul­ture song to make it into the movies, “Born to Be Wild” by Step­pen­wolf, was used orig­i­nally in “Easy Rider.” And then it was used over and over again to tell us that the hero was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing mo­ments of un­bri­dled free­dom and lib­erty.

An ex­tremely ap­pro­pri­ate use of a pop­u­lar song this year must go to “Thor: Rag­narok,” and the use of “the Im­mi­grant Song.” Thor, the Norse god of thun­der, is fight­ing against fierce en­e­mies to save Asgard, and Led Zep­pelin starts to blare out:

We come from the land of the ice and snow

From the mid­night sun, where the hot springs flow The ham­mer of the gods

We’ll drive our ships to new lands

To fight the horde, and sing and cry

Val­halla, I am com­ing!

It is al­most as though the song was writ­ten for that scene. How­ever, al­though Thor first ap­peared in 1962, eight years be­fore the Im­mi­grant Song was writ­ten, the song does not ref­er­ence the Mar­vel Comics. Rather, “the Im­mi­grant Song” was writ­ten to com­mem­o­rate a Led Zep­pelin con­cert in Ice­land, and was a sar­donic com­par­i­son of the band’s ad­ven­tures to those of the Vik­ings.

At the end of the day, mu­sic is here to stay. Pop­u­lar mu­sic has made its way into ev­ery part of our life. We can­not avoid it. Whether it be the 12 Dev Adam - the Turkish Na­tional Men’s Bas­ket­ball Team, known as the 12 Gi­ants - when watch­ing bas­ket­ball, “Gimme Shel­ter” or “Walk­ing on Sun­shine”, mu­sic drives our moods and thoughts.

Per­son­ally, these days I avoid lis­ten­ing to “Gimme Shel­ter,” al­though it is one of my all-time fa­vorite songs. The line “Rape mur­der, it’s just a shot away” is just a bit too close to the bone. I pre­fer to im­merse my­self in the eter­nal op­ti­mism of “Walk­ing on Sun­shine,” even if it is pour­ing out­side.

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